The NBA will penalize teams severely this season for resting healthy players in marquee games, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
The Sixers, of course, have one All-Star in Joel Embiid who’s frequently struggled with injuries and not always been in optimal condition. Their other All-Star, Ben Simmons, had left knee surgery in August but said last week he feels “100 percent” physically.
Head coach Doc Rivers knows all about load management for stars after his experience coaching Kawhi Leonard last season. The Clippers were fined $50,000 last November after Rivers said Leonard felt “great” the day after the NBA allowed him to sit out a nationally televised game against the Bucks. The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds notes this year’s policy isn’t much different than in 2019-20, with the league continuing to place a high value on nationally televised contests.
At his introductory Sixers press conference, Rivers described load management as going beyond merely how often a player sits out games.
“You listen, you really do,” he said. “You pay attention to your staff, you pay attention to your players, and then you just figure it out. Load management is so individual-based; it’s not team-based. Every individual has a limit, right? So we’ll figure that out.
“Ben, when healthy, seems to play more games right now. Joel, it seems like he’s gradually (increasing), which is a good thing. It’s not just that. It’s minutes, it’s practice time. It encompasses a lot of stuff. And every team has to deal with it, and we’ll have to deal with it here, and we’ll probably figure it out.”
The Sixers have nine games on either TNT or ESPN on the first portion of their regular-season schedule. The NBA is planning to release the rest of the schedule near the end of the first half.
- Jan. 7 at Nets (TNT): Second game of a home/road back-to-back
- Jan. 14 vs. Miami (TNT): One-day rest, second game of a home mini-series
- Jan 20 vs. Boston (ESPN): Two-day rest, first game of a home mini-series
- Jan. 22 vs. Boston (ESPN): One-day rest, second game of a home mini-series
- Jan. 27 vs. Lakers (ESPN): One-day rest
- Feb. 11 at Portland (TNT): One-day rest
- Feb. 17 vs. Houston (ESPN): One-day rest
- Feb. 19 vs. Bulls (ESPN): One-day rest
- Feb. 25 vs. Mavericks (TNT): One-day rest
While the second halves of back-to-back games aren’t necessarily the only ones that warrant load management for a player, it is notable that the Sixers only have one such nationally televised contest at the moment. They likely won't have many difficult load management decisions to make in the first half that are directly tied to the fact that a game is on national television.
The team has a packed January schedule that includes 17 games and four back-to-backs.
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